The Department for Education has said it doesn’t keep records from CO2 monitors in schools for more than a week.

The monitors were placed in schools as a way to monitor air flow, which is important in limiting the spread of covid in the island’s schools.

Gef submitted an FoI request for the information after Education Minister Julie Edge said in a Tynwald written answer that her dept did not intend to make the information public.

In it’s response, the DESC said: ‘While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Department does not hold or cannot, after taking reasonable steps to do so, find some of the information that you have requested. The number of times the records for each monitor has been taken is not held by the Department. This is because the carbon dioxide sensors automatically send data on an hourly basis and the Department only retain data for a period of one week at a time.’

As such, the data it did provide is from the week November 15 to November 19, which you can view in the document below. The maximum recorded level (6,149pmm) that week came from Castle Rushen High School room C3. The average for that room, which is not clearly identified, was 5,905.2pmm. That room’s average actually makes up nine of the top 10 spots in the chart. In addition to this most of the highest recorded averages are all found in high schools.

The DESC added: ‘The Department of Education, Sport and Culture works closely with the Department of Infrastructure, which maintains schools, to review Carbon Dioxide (CO2) monitor data.

‘If a high CO2 reading is identified, an air purifier is deployed to clean and circulate the classroom’s air using a high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) filter. However, this does not reduce CO2 levels, so our policy remains to open windows and doors where possible to increase ventilation for our students and staff.

‘Letting fresh air into indoor spaces, such as classrooms, can help remove air that contains virus particles and is important in preventing the spread of Covid-19, along with wearing a face covering and testing regularly.’

UK Advice

To gain a better appreciation of these figures, Gef looked at the advice published by the Department for Education, which is for use in England only but does give a good comparison of our nearest neighbour. 

That advice says: ‘A consistent value under 800ppm will show as green and does not require any action and implies that a space is particularly well ventilated. A consistent value of over 800ppm will show as amber/orange and should be seen as an early indicator to increase ventilation.

A consistent value over 1500ppm COconcentration in an occupied space is an indicator of poor ventilation. This will also be indicated by a red light on the CO2 monitors supplied by DfE. Monitors not supplied by DfE may be calibrated so that the red light comes on at a lower or higher level.

‘It is important to remember that high CO2 levels in a room are not a direct proxy for infection risk. CO2 monitors are intended to help you identify areas that are poorly ventilated, so that you can explore what steps you can take to improve ventilation. There is no need to stop using the room

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